Author Topic: roland tr-09  (Read 3353 times)

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Offline chrisNova777

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Re: roland tr-09
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2019, 08:43:26 PM »

Offline chrisNova777

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Re: roland tr-09
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2019, 04:26:19 PM »

Offline chrisNova777

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Re: roland tr-09
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2019, 02:00:08 PM »

Offline chrisNova777

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Re: roland tr-09
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2019, 11:25:00 AM »
https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/roland-boutique-tr-09-tb-03
sound on sound article from back in 2017

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Are Roland’s recreations the last word on these classic instruments?

A few years ago, Roland finally responded to the requests of many devotees by bringing back some of their legendary instruments, albeit using software modelling techniques rather than analogue circuitry. The TB-3 and TR-8 (which incorporated TR-808 and TR-909 kits) didn’t look much like their illustrious predecessors, but thanks to the magic of Analogue Circuit Behaviour they sure managed to sound like them.

After the release of those two fine machines, Roland might have planned to move on to pastures new, but not so. Next, the Boutique range delivered new software impressions of classic synths, but cut down in scale and polyphony. Even so, it was something of a surprise to hear the range had been expanded to include a Boutique TR-909 and TB-303. On this occasion, the look is very clearly based on the originals and the Aira green is but a memory. Could it be that these ultra-portable versions mark Roland’s last word on the subject? We can only wonder...

TR-09
Beginning with the dove grey (my wife reckons) TR-09, there are a couple of regular-sized buttons — Start and Stop/Continue. The rest are much smaller and divided into those having an integral red LED and those in clear plastic, able to light or flash. Each drum voice has dedicated controls to match those of a TR-909. As such, they are always live, but in some cases extra parameters are available too — hidden in a menu system complete with a four-character display and data entry encoder. The hidden parameters are: the gain and pan of every instrument, the tuning of specific drums (rim shot, clap and hi-hats) and the decay of others (rim, clap, crash and ride cymbals). All of which presents wider scope for experimentation than the original machine.

The TR-09’s main output is a stereo mini-jack and without any individual outputs at all, that pan control quickly feels essential. There’s a mini-jack headphone socket too, plus a Mix input capable of handling stereo signals from another Boutique, iPad, etc. I looked around for the main volume control, only to find it on the rear panel — as an even tinier control. While still taking stock, I realised there is no connector for a conventional power adapter, just a micro-USB port. This petite drum machine is initially powered from four AA batteries (supplied), but as it had been well exercised before reaching me [Sorry — Ed], they didn’t last much beyond a first exploratory session. To progress the review I therefore had to borrow a micro-USB adapter/charger from another piece of gear.

This is a more substantial box than its 308 x 130 x 51 mm dimensions might suggest; its cold metal panel rests on a plastic base and its knobs are small and crammed closely together, a far cry from the friendly spacing of the TR-909 (or, indeed, the TR-8). The TR-09 ships with the DK-01 Boutique Dock into which it clips neatly. Once attached, it can be raised to a couple of useful working angles although the plastic docking assembly feels somewhat rickety. Once you adjust to the scale of the controls, you’ve got all the hands-on of the legendary TR-909 in a format that will fit into a moderately sized jiffy bag. Prop it up on its docking stand and, using the internal speaker, you can create grooves to your heart’s content, and plenty of them. The TR-09 addresses one of the few shortcomings of the TR-8 — pattern storage — by having a generous 96 to fill. There’s even a basic song mode to assemble patterns into songs. These longer structures are known as tracks and eight are available to build arrangements.

For pattern creation, both step-time and real-time recording is supported, the latter complete with a guiding metronome. The metronome borrows the rim shot voice, something to be aware of if you like to begin with that particular thunk. Otherwise, real-time mode (known as Tap Write) is an undemanding process in which you hit keys. For some voices, two keys are required, with the left-most reserved for tapping in accented notes; the right key is unaccented.

If you switch to traditional step entry, repeatedly pressing any step key toggles through accented, unaccented and off states. (This order can even be changed via one of the global options.) Dedicated buttons on the left-hand side take care of scale, instrument selection, setting the pattern’s last step and activating shuffle or flams. Flams are applicable to the kick, snare and toms, with the flam time adjustable either in preset amounts via a range of step keys or by holding the Flam button and turning the Tempo knob. Flams may be introduced in a positive or negative direction.

Another fun trick of step entry is to add notes between the beats. Assuming you’ve kept to the default scale of 16th notes (four steps per beat), you can add 32nd notes by holding the Enter key as you enable steps. These are only visible later by holding the Enter key — something worth remembering if you’re hearing rogue notes that aren’t immediately traceable. Entering these ‘backbeats’ is the only way of making patterns of 32 steps.

At least one operation requires you to stop the drum machine, although the manual leaves you to discover this fact for yourself. This is Clear, the rather useful means of instantly wiping a pattern. Of the other housekeeping functions, I found pattern copy and paste to be slightly convoluted — it also has the odd requirement of selecting the destination pattern prior to the source, something that never quite felt intuitive.


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As well as adding accents to each drum, you can draft in Total Accent for the whole pattern. For this there’s a handy knob providing dynamic control and the Enter key becomes the ‘instrument select’ key when programming it. Total accent is a fast global means of piling extra emphasis on top of the accents built into each voice.

Having added notes, flams and accents, there’s no further action required to save the pattern — the very act of entering write mode accomplishes that task for you. While some of the key combinations are initially a bit cumbersome, you’ll get there with a bit of practice, plus there are LEDs a-plenty to prompt you about the bank, group and pattern selected, and whether you’re in write mode or not.

Curiously enough, the initial version of the firmware made no provision for instrument muting or soloing. Thankfully these useful functions were added in version 1.04, albeit requiring a key combination of Shift and Instrument Select. In this mode, the Enter key toggles between mute or solo — the instruments are then put into the chosen state by hitting step keys. It’s not ultra-slick but it does the job, although there’s no visual indication of which tracks are muted once you return to normal operation.

You’re able to switch between the two top-level play/write modes — pattern and track — without stopping the music. Not surprisingly, pattern mode allows you to concentrate on individual patterns but it also offers chaining, accomplished as easily as holding down a range of keys. However, it’s in track mode where you can put together more permanent arrangements of patterns — and in any order. Tracks consist of up to 1000 measures where each measure is one of the 96 available patterns. By default, a track plays just once. To make it loop, press the Cycle button.

It’s a friendly system in which you can move forwards and backwards through the arrangement with dedicated keys, or insert and delete measures to generally put together song-type structures. You can re-use patterns multiple times but — unlike the song modes of some grooveboxes — there are no mute overrides for each measure. To achieve variations of that type, you need to make copies of the pattern and edit the triggers.

Usefully, you can store the tempo for each track, although the TR-09 won’t automatically play at this tempo unless you select the track by holding both the tempo key and track number. I reckon this is the ideal way to do it, actually, because it offers the flexibility to switch tracks without a sudden tempo jump or impose one when you wish. Incidentally, tempo can be entered in finer resolution — two decimal points — by using the Shift key along with the tempo control.

Sounds Like?
It’s an ongoing homage to the original designers that these simple drum voices continue to be much in demand today. Indeed, they are the standard to which all else is compared. Keeping it simple, Roland have not attempted to match the TR-8’s effects capabilities. Only a compressor has been added, which can be applied to the bass and snare drums in individual amounts. Despite its single parameter, it’s surprisingly effective, not that these classic sounds need a whole lot of assistance to sound ‘just right’. I’m not sure it makes up for the lack of individual outputs though. No, I take that back, I am sure. It doesn’t.

If you rig up the TR-09 to a PC or Mac, you get virtual outputs — four of them over USB. As with other Airas, the USB port is your gateway to a high-quality audio interface and the USB connection also carries MIDI, so it’s useful for backing up your patterns too.

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It could be my imagination, but the ACB modelling this time out sounds even more like an example of a TR-909 you’d encounter today. Perhaps the look helps (in the same way that drinking cheap champagne from a posh glass somehow lends it mystique) or perhaps Roland have revisited the circuits and updated ACB to include simulated component ageing. Either way, I was thoroughly impressed.

The kick is phenomenal. Its attack transient, decay and tuning range deliver a superb percussive backbone from practically any combination of settings. Ditto the snare, the hi-hats and the clap — all sounds we know (almost too) well. Once again, the behaviour accurately captures the gentle phasing whenever the clap and snare play at the same time — a product of a common noise source in the original machine. Perhaps the only issue is one that’s difficult to quantify, but I’ll have a go anyway. After a prolonged session — and here I mean playing TR-09 patterns for an hour or more — something about the top end begins to grate. I realise I’m probably unusual in letting patterns run for so long and that it’s hardly a scientific observation, but I always find it a relief when it stops. My solution — also applicable to the TR-8 — is to apply some creative roll-off of high frequencies, for which I find a stereo analogue filter (a Xone VF-1, actually) to be invaluable. Your mileage may vary, but as several TR-8 owners have mentioned similar experiences to me, it may be something to be aware of.

Joining the 11 expected percussion voices is a 12th, Trigger. This helpfully allows you to program a trigger for external gear without sacrificing an internal voice. Typically the rim shot’s output was used for this, which is probably why the trigger out socket is placed in the rim section (the rear panel would have been an even better place).

Last but not least, the MIDI implementation is rather spiffy. There are MIDI CCs assigned to the front panel controls and almost all the TR-09’s functionality is covered, with the exception of pan as far as I could work out.